14.1109, Disc: Academic Boycotts

LINGUIST List linguist at linguistlist.org
Tue Apr 15 03:07:57 UTC 2003


LINGUIST List:  Vol-14-1109. Mon Apr 14 2003. ISSN: 1068-4875.

Subject: 14.1109, Disc: Academic Boycotts

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1)
Date:  Mon, 14 Apr 2003 09:41:40 -0400
From:  "Peter T. Daniels" <grammatim at worldnet.att.net>
Subject:  Re: 14.1096, Disc: New: Academic Boycotts

2)
Date:  Mon, 14 Apr 2003 15:59:33 +0200
From:  Veronika Koller <Veronika.Koller at isis.wu-wien.ac.at>
Subject:  Re: 14.1096, Disc: New: Academic Boycotts

3)
Date:  Mon, 14 Apr 2003 14:49:39 +0000
From:  Shalom  Lappin <lappin at dcs.kcl.ac.uk>
Subject:  Re: 14.1096, Disc: New: Academic Boycotts

-------------------------------- Message 1 -------------------------------

Date:  Mon, 14 Apr 2003 09:41:40 -0400
From:  "Peter T. Daniels" <grammatim at worldnet.att.net>
Subject:  Re: 14.1096, Disc: New: Academic Boycotts

I had thought of addressing the boycott resolution on LINGUIST List
when it arrived a few weeks ago, but wondered whether this was the
appropriate forum.

My concern is with its wording: it's not clear whether, as written,
the resolution would _end_ the boycotts of non-ERA states (which has
been in force for many years) and what effect it would have on
dealings with universities with "Native American" mascots -- there was
talk not long ago of moving the Linguistic Institute away from the
University of Illinois for that reason. Could that be clarified?

-

Peter T. Daniels


-------------------------------- Message 2 -------------------------------

Date:  Mon, 14 Apr 2003 15:59:33 +0200
From:  Veronika Koller <Veronika.Koller at isis.wu-wien.ac.at>
Subject:  Re: 14.1096, Disc: New: Academic Boycotts



Dear Martin, dear list members:

The issue seems to be clear:
Academic boycotts obstruct the free exchange of knowledge and hence
insight. (Incidentally, so do tight immigration and/or travel
restrictons.)  Product boycotts obstruct the free exchange of goods
and services and hence prosperity. (And I mean free here, i.e., no
unilateral barriers putting ldcs at a disadvantage.)

Under certain circumstances, individuals, NPOs or governments may
consider it appropriate to forego benefits (insight and prosperity)
out of a belief that the means (boycott) justify the ends
(discontinuation of politics/policies considered harmful by the
boyotter).

The crucial issue is of course that the boycotter has to see a
realistic chance of the end being achieved, otherwise it would hardly
be sensible to forego any benefits. Which decision to take is up to
either personal discretion or group consensus or majority vote, at
worst, coercion. In the case of the linguistic community, I don't see
a consensus but perhaps - recalling a similar discussion on this list
a couple of months ago - a majority opinion against academic boycotts.

Personally, I do not think that academia - apart perhaps from
high-prestige and hence high-fund branches like biotech, IT and
"defence" technology - can have enough impact for a boycott to
realistically achieve its ends. Generally speaking, in my opinion
there's only two ways of exercising coercive (as contrasted with
hegemonic) power: threatening someone's life or physical wellbeing
(unethical under any circumstances) or threatening their prosperity
(the basis of product boycotts). Obstructing academic achievements
(with the above exceptions) do not fulfill these criteria.

In these gruesome times we have daily proof that intellectual and
cultural achievements which do not translate directly into coercive
power (again through physical force or through money) rank very low on
the totem pole.

Best regards,
Veronika Koller




-------------------------------- Message 3 -------------------------------

Date:  Mon, 14 Apr 2003 14:49:39 +0000
From:  Shalom  Lappin <lappin at dcs.kcl.ac.uk>
Subject:  Re: 14.1096, Disc: New: Academic Boycotts

I disagree with Martin Haspelmath's posting on academic boycotts, and
I strongly support the LSA resolution. To the best of my knowledge
previous boycotts, including the anti-apartheid boycott, did not
target individual scholars with a view to dismissing them from
editorial boards, preventing their attendance at conferences, refusing
to consider articles that they submit to journals for publication,
etc. Such actions have been taken by supporters of the current
campaign to boycott Israeli universities and cultural
institutions. These actions constitute blatant discrimination in that
they penalize individuals researchers solely on the grounds that they
live and work in a particular country, and have a particular national
identity/citzenship. None of the LSA boycotts against American states
that engage in objectionable practises have sought to exclude
academics from those states from participating in normal academic
life. The LSA resolution is designed to prevent this sort of
unacceptable bigotry from entering into linguistics in the name of
political protest. It is entirely legitimate and desirable to target
governments and official state institutions for organized protest and
sanction when they engage in unacceptable practises. It is not
reasonable to stigmatize individuals who are not responsible for those
practises, simply by virtue of the fact that these people live in the
countries in question. This is not simply a matter of scientific
freedom but of human rights. The principle of non-discrimination on
national and ethnic grounds applies across the board to all sides of
any conflict.
                    Shalom Lappin
                    Department of Computer Science
                    King's College London

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